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Microbes Took Me to Europe

Last summer I had the opportunity to do undergraduate research with the University of Arizona at Biosphere 2. Biosphere 2 is a research facility that consists of seven artificial biomes such as a rainforest, ocean, savanna and desert. I worked in the Landscape Evolution Observatory biome or LEO, which is composed of three artificial landscapes that researchers observe to study the influence of plants, water, and microbes on soil formation. My research focused on the microbial communities of the landscapes, specifically their viability and abundance within specific points of the system. As apart of the research opportunity, I was required to present my findings at a conference of my choice. That is when EGU caught my eye. The European Geosciences Union or EGU is the largest general assembly in Europe that brings geoscientist from all around the world to Vienna, Austria to discuss disciplines of earth, planetary, and space sciences. Every year this assembly provides a forum where established and early career researchers can present their work and discuss their findings with experts in all fields of geoscience.

Thanks to the help of Biosphere 2 and the CNR Enrichment fund, I was able to attend the week-long assembly to not only present my research but to explore and discover the new advancements in all things geoscience. Each day there was an infinite number of sessions, debates, or workshops that you could attend. From some of the sessions, I learned about research and advancements in gully and rill erosion, polar vortexes, and stormwater management. My perspective on science and policymaking was also changed when I attended the debate of Science in Policy Making: Who is responsible? Unsurprisingly most scientists felt like the policymakers were accountable for incorporating science into their decisions, while the policymakers were quick to blame the scientist. Others felt like it was a joint responsibility, but the room suggested otherwise. You could feel the tension between the scientists and policymakers in the air. While the debate was informative, it promoted awareness about the rift between the two communities.

When I wasn’t in a debate or session, I visited the poster presentations. There I explored the variety of topics present, but I also took note of the way career scientists communicated and presented their results. As a student interested in a research career and graduate school, I wanted to pick up as much advice and information as I could in order the develop myself professionally and personally.

I am so grateful to have been a part of opportunity like EGU. Attending it has not only motivated me to continue on the path of research but helped me narrow down what topics I would like to pursue in the future. It has also served as a medium to network with scientists from all over the world and has pushed me to develop my professional and personal skills. I plan to look back at this experience for inspiration, and in the future, I hope to return to the conference as an established researcher.

Viennese Train Adventures – Read about Pheonix’s travels and her experience with the trains of Vienna